This week the world once again is witnessing a massive and joyous gathering of young people from across the globe.
The largest youth event in the world is taking place in Sydney, Australia, which is serving as host to the 23rd World Youth Day of the Catholic Church.
This event gathers hundreds of thousands of young Catholic pilgrims together to deepen their faith through study and prayer. It is a gathering that brings together young people from every nation and continent, including pilgrims from the Diocese of Providence. They celebrate their Catholic faith and renew their commitment to the Gospel. To the many cynics who dismiss the Catholic Church as “old-fashioned” and “out of date,” World Youth Day stands as a glowing witness to the vitality and energy that Catholic youth bring to the Church.
The powerful experience that World Youth Day offers to the faithful pilgrims assembled in Sydney is one of deep prayer with the Lord and profound reflection of His Gospel. Catechistical sessions are held all week in a variety of languages and in more than 250 different locations throughout Sydney. The three days of Catechesis are centered on the Holy Spirit and mission in the light of the Pentecost event. This reflects the theme of World Youth Day 2008, declared by Pope Benedict XVI: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.”
Pope Benedict XVI has been with these young people all week and is scheduled to celebrate Mass on Sunday to conclude the historic week. He suggests the experience of World Youth Day is much like Pentecost when, upon receiving the Holy Spirit, the disciples “experienced the true power of the Spirit, whose presence transforms uncertainty, fear, and division into purpose, hope and communion.”
We offer our prayers to the thousands of youthful pilgrims in Australia, especially those from St. Agatha parish and others from the Diocese of Providence who have traveled so far in faith. We hope that World Youth Day 2008 is truly a time of transformation and conversion in their lives, so they may become more committed witnesses of Christ who are ready to change the world for the better.